In this day and age where the public outcry of heroin deaths has reached an all time high, we still have public officials who want to imprison sick people. A public health crisis like the prescription drug/heroin epidemic needs medical treatment options, not jail cells.
Officials state that despite heroin being the root cause of the influx of offenders, they still need to house these sick people in a jail setting. They say there are not enough treatment beds available. Well, the casual observer would say “Why don’t you spend the money on actual treatment centers instead of a jail?” The answer is that people don’t understand that addiction is an illness.
We certainly wouldn’t put a diabetic patient in a cell for not staying away from that extra piece of cake and having their blood sugar go off the chart nearly causing them to die. We wouldn’t jail the lung cancer patient who continues to smoke. When will we wake up to the fact that the ingestion of any substance to change our mood, to the point it results in serious health consequences, is medical situation?
Medical patients need medical care, not lock down. Using a lock and key to keep a situation in control is a temporary solution, even if you do attempt some substance abuse education during the incarceration period. People rarely learn under duress. Force rarely causes true change in behavior, but compassion leads to a deeper understanding and lifelong behavior alterations. We repeatedly try incarceration and get the same results, why don’t we repeatedly try drug treatment? Most people don’t get things down pat the first time the learn something.